Apple generates a lot of news, and it can be hard to keep up. If your mind was on other things this week, our roundup of Apple-related headlines will bring you up to date.
The iPhone is flipping great
Plenty of iPhone 13 rumours doing the rounds this week - it will have an always-on screen, didn't you know? - but we're more interested in the - let's see - iPhone 15.
The prolific leaker Jon Prosser, or Prostradamus as we like to call him, says Apple has been working on two folding iPhones, and has since narrowed its focus down to the version based on a clamshell design. Prosser says this is currently known as the iPhone Flip.
With a design that's reminiscent of the Galaxy Z Flip, we also hear that the iPhone Flip will come in "fun colours", feature a flexible display probably supplied by LG (although Samsung is also in the running) and, rather unexpectedly, support the Apple Pencil.
But Prosser and a later report from the analysis company Omdia agree that it's a long way off: 2023 currently looks likely - assuming it ever launches at all.
Mark 16 March in your calendar
We've been expecting an Apple spring event for a while, but it all got a bit more real this week. Two Twitter sources separately - albeit very close together - named 16 March as the special date, which happens to coincide with what Jon Prosser predicted as long ago as October.
We're still on slightly shaky ground, admittedly: our predictions are both reputable and recent, but the ones that are recent are not reputable and the one that's reputable is not recent. However, it's worth pointing out that 16 March makes a lot of sense, and is roughly what we've been expecting for months. These aren't outliers.
As for content, expect the iPad range to be the focus of the evening's virtual festivities. The new iPad Pro is expected to launch in March, and there's a good chance we'll see a new iPad mini with trimmed-down bezels and a screen that's bumped from 7.9in to 8.4in.
Prosser also reckons the AirTags are still on for a March launch. Put the date in your diary.
Update: Or maybe don't. Mark Gurman, who with the greatest of respect to Jon Prosser has more credibility as an analyst than the three sources above put together, says 16 March is definitely off. His comments appear to leave room for an event elsewhere in March, however.
'We have to inflict pain'
There is little or no love lost between Apple and Facebook these days, and we're starting to get a sense of how deep the dislike between the companies really runs.
The Wall Street Journal's sources report that at the height of hostilities Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told his team "We have to inflict pain" on Apple. The outburst followed a TV interview when Tim Cook criticised Facebook's user-monetising business model.
As striking as we find the contrast between the relatively measured public statements and the vitriol expressed in private (Tim Cook appears to be an extremely decent human being, but we'd love to hear his unfiltered thoughts on the matter), it was always inevitable that two of the biggest companies of the age would end up on a collision course. They sit at opposite ends of the spectrum, with utterly incompatible philosophies of the future of technology.
Things have come to a head over the past 12 months. Apple has been leaning more and more into the importance of user privacy, leading to a "Saying the quiet part loud" moment when Facebook complained that users deciding whether or not they can be tracked would ruin its business model. (A complaint the Electronic Frontier Foundation described as laughable and wrong.)
Facebook thinks the future is free services supported by data tracking and targeted advertising; Apple think it's expensive hardware with a tightly controlled user experience. Neither company is going to see things from the other's point of view, and there will be plenty more pain before this is over.
The Apple Car dating game
The Apple Car rumour mill shows no sign of calming down.
One analyst this week described Apple's increasingly desperate-looking circuit of the car manufacturers as a dating game. Perhaps it is, but it's one conducted largely via briefings to the press with billions of dollars at stake.
There are three names in the ring at the moment, and none of them look especially likely right now. Negotiations with Hyundai have been suspended, and Nissan has publicly stated that it's not in negotiations either; Volkswagen would be a good fit but the firm's CEO is busy telling anyone who will listen that he's not scared of the Apple Car, and insisting that Cupertino wouldn't be able to take over the car sector "at a single stroke".
Then again, maybe that's just VW playing hard to get.
News in brief
The new iOS 14.5 software update adds hundreds of new emoji, including a heart in flames, a blood-free hypodermic needle, a woman with a beard and interracial couples.
The UK government has bought 11,000 iPhone SE units. We think Dominic Raab must have got into Pokemon Go.
Bugs & problems
Malware on Macs is decreasing - but the worst kind of malware is increasing, as cybercriminals adjust to changes in macOS.
Talking of which, the first malware for the M1 Macs has been officially recorded. It's unlikely to be the last.
A serious issue has been reported by some owners of the Apple Watch SE and Series 5: when these devices are put into Power Reserve, there is a chance they will refuse to charge and become effectively bricked. Apple has announced a software fix and repair programme.
Some users have complained of potentially Mac-breaking installation problems that could result in lost data, but Apple's second build of Big Sur 11.2.1 fixes the issue.
The rumour mill
Unworried by the lack of a 120Hz screen in the iPhone 12 series, Apple has pushed ahead with plans for 240Hz, based on patent activity.
Jon Prosser, whom we've referenced several times in this roundup, reckons a new iPhone mini will launch this year. That might not sound like much of a stretch, but reports suggest the iPhone 12 mini didn't sell terribly well: there's a creeping suspicion that Apple fans say they want small phones, but don't actually buy them when they appear (or go instead for phones that are both small and relatively cheap, like the iPhone SE 2020).
The Apple Watch Series 7 may get non-invasive blood sugar measurement, based on four new patent applications.
And that's it for this week. Stay Appley!